In this blog, we’ve talked a lot about market research question design, and for a good reason. When preparing a market research project, it’s important to understand how you’re leading your audience. Of course you need to guide discussions and probe for specific responses, but you need to be very aware of what you’re doing and how the way you ask influences the responses.
A very simple example of a subtle guidance: When taking personality tests, if you say “take your time” you get different responses than if you say “do your best”. “Take your time” implies that you want very thoughtful answers, and people respond accordingly. “Do your best” is neutral and doesn’t have implicit guidance built in.
Think about your research goals, and set up your questions appropriately.
If you’re doing a message test where in real life people don’t take a lot of time to think through underlying ideas, create a similar environment with guidance like “Please review and give me your first gut reaction” or “Don’t over-think this, I’m looking for your initial response.”
If you’re looking to understand pain, it may take some digging to get to the source because your participant may not actually be aware of what’s going on. This is particularly true with technology professionals that have lived with the pain for a while and have a workaround in place. They may not notice how much time they spend doing something that is not value added because it’s just the way it works. In that case, ask questions that encourage thoughtfulness, such as “Why is that?” or “Really, tell me more about that” or “Could a different approach be more valuable?“